Utah Water Conditions Update May 2024

Published 05-16-24

SALT LAKE CITY (May 16, 2024) – As of mid-May, over half of this winter’s snow has melted. Utah’s water conditions continue to benefit from favorable weather patterns, ensuring optimal spring runoff. Short periods of warm temperatures followed by cooler weather and precipitation have helped slow snowmelt. 

“A slow warmup is exactly what we need to have a safe and effective spring runoff,” Candice Hasenyager, director of the Division of Water Resources, said. “We still have a good amount of snow in the mountains, so we are hoping for a gradual snowmelt.”

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Sprouting Sustainability: Part 2. Cultivating a waterwise veggie paradise

Sprouting sustainability: Part 2. Cultivating a waterwise veggie paradise 

Published 05-13-24

In Part 1 of the Sprouting Sustainability series, we discussed the beneficial role of a water-efficient veggie garden here in semi-arid Utah, along with the unique needs of our watersheds, attitudes about landscapes and incentives available for landscape conversions. Now we’re diving into the garden patch to give you actionable tips as you cultivate your waterwise veggie paradise.

So, if you’ve got a green thumb and a penchant for vegetables, but you’re also trying to be a water-saving superhero, this is the article for you. 

First, let’s talk waterwise veggies. Are they a thing? Yes and no. Veggies, by nature, tend to be a bit more demanding when it comes to water compared to your laid-back succulents or drought-tolerant shrubs. But there are ways to wrangle those thirsty tomatoes and cucumbers into shape without draining reservoirs.

Drip it like it’s hot

Veggie plant water uptake happens through the root system — not the leaves. So get up close and personal with the roots and hydrate straight to the source via drip irrigation. This is like the VIP treatment for your plants, and bonus: precious water will not be whisked away by wind and evaporation. Drip irrigation can also improve the health of your veggies. Because you’re applying water evenly, and not on the leaves, a drip will reduce the chance of tomato blossom end rot, mold, mildew and other damage to plants.

Zone defense

Just like in sports, strategic zoning is key. Your veggie garden shouldn’t have to compete with thirsty grass for hydration supremacy. Give your vegetables their own zone and their own customized watering schedules, tailored to their needs. Putting in a bit of extra planning upfront can lead to big rewards down the line.

Mulch magic

Think of mulch as the snuggly blanket for your soil. A thick layer of mulch (we recommend four inches) helps lock in moisture, keeping your veggies cozy and hydrated for longer. Plus, it’s like a barrier against the pesky weed invaders, ensuring your precious plants get all the attention they deserve.

Rain dance

Don’t rely solely on the tap when Mother Nature’s got your back! Collect rainwater in barrels (Utah residents can collect two 100-gallon covered storage containers of rainwater without registering with the state) or direct downspouts to your veggie garden for a sustainable hydration boost. It’s like hitting the refresh button on your garden’s water supply – eco-friendly and oh-so-efficient.

Whack the weeds

Don’t let unruly weeds crash the veggie party! Weeds compete for resources with the plants you want, including water. Allowing weeds to take over means your veggies aren’t getting first dibs on that H2O. Remove weeds before they flower and remove the entire root of the weed, not just the top.

Smart solutions

Make your garden tech-savvy. Soil moisture sensors and smart irrigation controllers are like your garden’s personal assistants, keeping tabs on hydration levels and adjusting watering schedules accordingly.  It’s hands-free gardening at its finest — sit back, relax and let the gadgets do the work! Bonus: you might qualify for a cash incentive if you replace your irrigation controller with a smart, water-efficient one. Learn more about that here.

With a little creativity and a lot of love, you can keep your garden flourishing while still saving water like a pro. Happy gardening! 🌱

Sprouting Sustainability: Part 1. The water-conscious veggie garden

Sprouting sustainability: Part 1. The beneficial role of a water-conscious veggie garden

Published 05-02-24

Amidst Utah’s semi-arid landscape — where the intricate weave of watersheds demands intentional water stewardship — cultivating water-efficient veggie gardens is a wise, sustainable and beneficial use of the precious resource. Here, in part one of the two-part Sprouting Sustainability series, we’ll delve into the unique needs of our state’s watersheds, reveal Utahns’ attitudes about landscape choices and explore the enticing incentives available to those interested in converting parts of their traditional lawn that they don’t use, to a vibrant garden.

Watersheds wonders

From the bustling developments of the Wasatch Front to the agricultural expanses of the Wasatch Back, it’s important to point out that different watersheds have varying needs. While the Wasatch Front directs the majority of its water towards neighborhoods, shopping centers and educational institutions, the Wasatch Back prioritizes agricultural production. Because we can’t move water between watersheds (wouldn’t that be fancy?), there’s a need for holistic water conservation efforts across all sectors, statewide.

We like your attitude

Thankfully, a growing number of people recognize that practicing water conservation at home plays a pivotal role in safeguarding Utah’s water supply for future generations. In a recent statewide survey about Utah’s growth, we learned that a remarkable 80% of urban Utahns support incentives aimed at encouraging low-water-use landscape conversions. This growing awareness of how individual landscape choices impact our collective water “footprint” gets us excited as we continue to improve and expand our incentive programs!

What’s in it for you?

Speaking of incentives, here’s the scoop: there are now 60 eligible areas throughout Utah that can take advantage of the statewide landscape incentive program. This program — which we co-run alongside Washington County, Jordan Valley, Central Utah and Weber Basin Water Conservancy Districts — offers money (up to $3 per square foot) to those replacing traditional lawns with water-efficient landscapes, including gardens! By participating in this program, you’re not only contributing to water conservation efforts but also creating vibrant and productive spaces that enhance the ecological health of our communities and provide habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Sustainability + practicality

While both lawns and veggies are beneficial and have similar water needs, using drip irrigation systems in gardens offers a significant efficiency advantage. Unlike traditional sprays and rotors, drip systems deliver water directly to the roots, minimizing waste and maximizing absorption. In part two of this series (coming soon) we’ll provide actionable tips on how you can begin creating your water-efficient garden.

Water-efficient veggie gardens are a harmonious marriage of sustainability and practicality within Utah’s watersheds. By harnessing the power of efficient irrigation methods, replacing parts of your lawn you don’t actually use and taking advantage of available landscape incentives, you can play a vital role in sustaining Utah’s water resources while enjoying the bountiful rewards of your labor. Now, head over to part two of this series to learn how to get to work cultivating your veggie paradise.

Spring landscape water-saving tips

Published 04-25-24

(April 25, 2024)

Spring weather is here, and the gardening season is beginning. Residentially, most of our water is used on the landscape. However, there are a few tricks to help reduce water waste without compromising the aesthetic value of your garden.

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7 ways to protect water resources in honor of Earth Day

Published 04-22-24

April 22, 2024 — Earth is a watery place. When we look at a photo from space, it’s easy to see that our planet has more water than land. But of all the water on Earth, more than 99-percent of it is unusable by humans and many other living things. It’s surprising that the water that supports all terrestrial and aquatic life on our planet is actually so scarce! 

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Work Plan for the Great Salt Lake Basin Integrated Plan Now Complete

Published 04-15-24

Specific actions outlined to help ensure a resilient water supply for the lake

SALT LAKE CITY (April 15, 2024) – The Utah Division of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation are pleased to announce the finalization of the Work Plan for the Great Salt Lake Basin Integrated Plan (GSLBIP), which charts the course for developing the GSLBIP.

After a 65-day comment period, the initial draft Work Plan was updated in response to recommendations and to include the specific actions necessary for completing the GSLBIP.

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Utah Water Conditions Update March 2024

Published 03-07-24

SALT LAKE CITY (March 7, 2024) – Utah’s water outlook for March is marked by encouraging developments and notable records. Alta recently experienced its wettest February on record, showcasing the dynamic nature of our climate and its potential impact on water resources. 

“Alta’s record-breaking February reminds us how much can change in a month,” Candice Hasenyager, director of the Division of Water Resources, said. “Our statewide snowpack has been consistently above normal since the beginning of February, which has really put Utah in a good position as we head into spring.”

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Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation Donates $2.2 Million to Water Conservation and Education Efforts in Utah

Published 02-28-24

The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation donated $2.2 million to the Antelope Island Learning Center and Utah Water Ways for Utah’s water conservation and educational outreach efforts. 

Funding for the Antelope Island Learning Center will be routed through the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation. The Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation is the nation’s leading advocate for entrepreneurial thought in conservation and will create an educational curriculum for the Antelope Island Learning Center. 

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Utah Water Conditions Update February 2024

Published 02-15-24

SALT LAKE CITY (Feb. 15, 2024) – As we enter mid-February, Utah’s water supply exhibits promising signs of resilience and abundance. The state’s snowpack, consistently above normal levels for most regions, sets an optimistic tone for water conditions. 

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Utah Water Conditions Update

Published 01-18-24

SALT LAKE CITY (Jan. 18, 2024) – Assessing Utah’s water conditions in mid-January reveals a unique narrative. While much of December witnessed scarce precipitation, the trajectory shifted with early January storms, bringing our snowpack to normal levels for much of the state. 

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